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This Is Just To Say

This is just to say

I have eaten

the pluots

that were in the icebox

and which I bought at the farmer’s market just to

show you

that I should have been allowed to play “pluot” in scrabble that time you didn’t

believe me

when I said a pluot is


plum half


it’s a real word like cherry

or light

or loneliness

anyway I have eaten

the pluots

that were in

the icebox

and which

I probably should have


for after dinner

Forgive me

they were


so sweet

and so cold


My friends, do you know This Is Just To Say, by William Carlos Williams?  The original poem, before I had my way with it, is here.

Since I ate all the pluots, I didn’t bake anything with them.   But next time I come across pluots or plums, I’m going to make Molly’s (at Orangette) pudding cake of honey, cinnamon and plums, which she adapted from the book Tender.

In the meantime, here are two other recipes.  I’m dedicating them to a dude we met at a pub in Scotland while we played Scrabble.  The dude arbitrated (incorrectly) our dispute over whether “pluot” was a word.   I hope I see him someday, because I have a pluot for him.

The first recipe is for a simple poached salmon.

With tangy basil cream.

The other is for the most delicious, moist almond cake I’ve ever had.

It’s from Amanda Hesser’s book, Cooking for Mr. Latte.  The middle sinks in, but it’s supposed to.  It has a rustic look.

The recipe calls for almond paste, which makes the cake dense and creamy, and way cheaper to make than a cake that calls for lots of nuts.  (A can of almond paste should be under $6, whereas a bunch of nuts would cost way more.)

It’s great with whipped cream or ice cream, or with amaretto drizzled over the cut slices.  I just ate some for breakfast with plain Greek yogurt drizzled with honey!

Here are the recipes:

Poached Salmon with Tangy Basil Cream {Download & Print Recipe}

Ingredients: (for two)

3/4 to 1 lb. salmon fillet

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

a dash of pepper

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1+ tbsp. (to taste) red or white wine vinegar

1/2 c. olive oil

4 tbsp. + (to taste) sour cream

5 or so basil leaves, cut into thin strips


Make the basil cream:

Drop the yolk into a bowl.  Add the salt, mustard, pepper and 1 tbsp. of vinegar.  Whisk until blended.  Add the oil very slowly–practically one teaspoon at a time–whisking vigorously after each, until the mixture thickens and becomes emulsified.  (At this point, you’ve made mayonnaise.)  Whisk in the sour cream and the basil.  Taste and adjust the proportions to suit you. (More sour cream to make it more creamy, more vinegar to make it more tangy, more oil to thicken it.)

Poach the salmon:  Choose a shallow sauce pan that’s big enough to contain the salmon (in one layer) and has a lid.  Fill it with just enough water to cover the salmon once it’s in the pan (you can test it out and then remove the salmon.)  Salt it the way you would a pot of water for pasta, and bring it to a simmer.

Lower the fish, skin side-down, into the water.  This will lower the temperature of the water, so wait a minute and adjust the heat so that bubbles are rising around the fish in a lazy pace.  Poach with the lid askew until the fish is barely cooked through–about 8 minutes per inch (height-wise) of fish.

Carefully remove the fish from the skillet and pat it dry, removing any white stuff with your fingers or a paper towel.  Before serving, you can remove any skin on the bottom of the filet by running a knife between the skin and the meat.  Serve with the basil cream on top or on the side.


The tangy basil cream is basically a homemade mayonnaise with sour cream in it.  You can substitute lemon for the vinegar.  You can also double the recipe and save half (before adding sour cream) to use as mayonnaise on your sandwiches.  We did that.  I used some of the mayo on roasted potatoes:  I took four large red potatoes and slathered them in homemade mayonnaise.  I sprinkled them with kosher salt and wrapped each in tin foil.  I put them in a 400+ degree oven and roasted them until they were done.  (I forgot to time it!)  We ate them with the salmon and they were fantastic.

Almond Cake {Download & Print Recipe}

(from Cooking for Mr. Latte, by Amanda Hesser, reworded by me)


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for buttering the pan)

1 c. sour cream, at room temperature

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. almond extract

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. sugar

7 oz. almond paste, cut into small pieces

4 egg yolks, at room temperature

confectioner’s sugar (optional, for sifting over the cake)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Mix the sour cream,  baking soda and almond extract together in a small bowl.  Mix the four and salt in another bowl.  In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the almond paste a little at a time at medium speed.  When the almond paste has all been added, beat for 8 minutes on medium speed, stopping once or twice to push the batter on the sides of the bowl down into the middle.

Beat the egg yolks in one at a time and mix until smooth.  If it looks curdled, it’s okay.  Add the sour cream mixture.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, mixing just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake about 1 hour.  It’s done when you press the top and it returns to its shape, and also shrinks from the sides of the pan.  The center will sink in, and that’s okay.  Place on a baking rack to cool in the pan.  When ready to serve, sift confectioner’s sugar on top.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or berries.


The little guy is full of smiles and energy.

Photo courtesy of Jason at day care. We love Jason.

It makes us all want to go to sleep.

Since we’re on the subject, Scott took the 3rd through 5th photos in this post. That’s why I keep him around even though he discriminates against pluots.

49 Comments Post a comment
  1. That basil cream looks wonderful, Katherine. About the cake: you can buy a pound of raw almonds at Trader Joe’s if you are near one and make almond paste, which costs less than buying it in a can, if you are so moved.

    July 7, 2012
    • Aha! Thanks- I had no idea you could get almonds that cheaply. We don’t have a Trader Joe’s near us. I’ll keep a look-out for them in other cities and try to snag some. Have you ever made pecan butter? I had some in a jar a few months ago and it was phenomenal, but I’ve never made it.

      July 7, 2012
      • I haven’t made pecan butter — pecans are harder to find cheap than almonds in California which is a major almond-growing state.

        July 7, 2012
        • I’ve made pecan paste, which I then turned into pecan marzipan. Oilier than almonds but soooooo good.

          July 8, 2012
  2. Love it when I get in early on the commenting – makes me feel like a trendsetter! Anyway, OF COURSE pluot is a word. What is it with these people who cannot keep up with things culinary? One of my cousins is a Canadian rated scrabble player (kind of like tennis players have ratings, without having to be in shape – no offence to my cousin who is mentally an extremely fit specimen!). I will get in touch with him to see if ‘pluot’ is accepted at the Canadian and American tourneys he plays in. If not, I will lobby! And to keep my energy up, I will have some of that almond cake, which looks delectable, just like the salmon dish. But I think the almond cake will make a better bribe to get the scrabblers onside with ‘pluot.’

    July 7, 2012
    • I like this plan. I like it a lot. If the scrabblers don’t swing our way, perhaps we can bake an almond cake or some of the delicious things on your site, and lobby the dictionary people. I mean, like you said. It’s a word! No one can ever take that away from the lowly pluot!

      July 11, 2012
  3. Pluots?! What wizardry is this? And how am I unfamiliar with it? I don’t like being unfamiliar with stuff that sounds awesome.

    July 7, 2012
    • Juls, go get you some! They’re all the rage.

      I am always unfamiliar with stuff that sounds awesome– whenever I read the New York Times style section, I understand every fifth word. But there’s hope for us. Hope in the pluot!

      July 11, 2012
      • PLUOTS OF HOPE! I shall make a logo.

        July 12, 2012
  4. Dude, those photos are freakin’ next level. Also, I’ve just decided that your gorgeous salmon and equally gorgeous almond cake are on my short list of last meals. You know, in case I go to prison.

    Oh, and I’ll request a side of pluots.

    July 7, 2012
    • Movita, if you go to prison it’s going to be because a Rutherford framed you. You know that, right? But don’t worry. Your fire fighting neighbor and I will break you out if need be. I also promise to take care of your Bakery on Bakery Story if the prison doesn’t let you bring your iphone in there. But I’m sure they will–I’m sure that if you go to prison, it would be a really classy prison for super smart, non-violent criminals. Heck, they probably have iphone hook-ups in every cell.

      July 11, 2012
  5. This is my favorite post, basically ever. Pluots! William Carlos Williams! SLEEPING DOGS! You just made all my Saturday dreams come true.

    July 7, 2012
    • Oh how kind of you to say! This made me smile.

      July 11, 2012
  6. a #

    Who doesn’t know what a pluot is? Inconceivable!

    July 7, 2012
    • I know, right?! Also, you have to read Kate K’s comment below. She is a HUGE fan of “inconceivable” and Wallace Shawn.

      July 11, 2012
  7. Amber #

    2 sticks unsalted butter, salted (plus more for buttering the pan)??

    I don’t know what you mean by this… Probably because I am not so smart, but would you please explain?

    Thank you!!!

    P. s. I love your blog!

    July 7, 2012
    • Amber–dear super smart Amber,
      You are totally right. “Unsalted salted butter” is, um, not helpful. I meant to say unsalted butter, SOFTENED. But I am an idiot. Thank you so much for pointing it out– I corrected it above. Thank you!

      July 11, 2012
  8. Jen #

    We love pluots in our house! Up here near Chicago there are different varieties of them too! You must try them all! 🙂

    July 7, 2012
    • Jen, I will have to add “pluot varieties” to the long list of things that are awesome about Chicago. I’m jealous!

      July 11, 2012
  9. I feel extraordinarily sorry for the dude who doesn’t know pluots. Though the ones I’ve seen are more purple. I believe what you may have there is an aprium… At any rate it’s all awesome. And also, I think I shall say that my strawberry cake is SUPPOSED to sink. All is right with the world…

    July 7, 2012
    • Wow, I googled aprium and now I see that there are even more types of related fruit than I ever imagined! Do you, too, live in California? I support your efforts on the sinking strawberry cake front. When cakes sink, they just get denser and more delicious, right? 🙂

      July 11, 2012
  10. Kate K #

    Can you please tell the person who commented up above about that time that I ran into Wallace Shawn on my one block long dead end street in Charlottesville? And at the time he was one of two “famous” people I would have been able to recognize on the street (the other was Adrian Brody). I stuttered and stepped backwards….groceries in hand…talking about our mutual friend Andre.

    Anyway, the real point of this is: have you had CandyCots? They are apricots crossed with the best things about fruit in France. Are they real or did Fresh Direct make them up?

    [I miss you…also, Adam just opened his bottle of Louis XIII and I wish you were here to taste it]

    July 7, 2012
    • Hey I googled candycots and apparently there is a rating for the sweetness of fruits! Fun fact: candycots’ Brix rating (which measures dissolved sugars) is anywhere from 20 to 30, higher than most apricots varieties, which usually measure in the teens.

      I wonder what the Brix rating of the bottle of Louis XIII is. . . 🙂 Miss you too.

      July 11, 2012
  11. I fondled pluots just today at Central Market in Houston. Mine were purple but with so much other fruit already filling my refrigerator and table bowls, I could not commit to purchase. Now I live with the regret. What is the opposite of buyer’s remorse?

    July 7, 2012
    • Stacy, window shopper’s remorse is the worst!

      I’m running out of room for fruit, too. It’s the watermelon that did it–when I cut it up, I had to put it in FIVE plastic containers in the fridge! (It’s worth it.)

      July 11, 2012
  12. I love learning foodie stuff (even though I’ll never use it) and getting my “Awwwww” quota for the day. Many many pluotian thanks.

    July 8, 2012
    • Sandy Sue, you never know when you could find yourself embroiled in a game of scrabble–I hope it comes in handy in some way or another someday! 🙂

      July 11, 2012
  13. What a lovely post. Your photos are just stunning. Love that poem too. And the recipes, yum!

    July 8, 2012
    • Hey there! Thanks- the pictures for this one were fun. The flowers and tables at the beginning are my aunt’s, and the fruit was from the San Clemente farmer’s market. That’s the beach in Torrey Pines and then the beach in La Jolla. (We were out there last week–so lovely.)

      July 11, 2012
  14. Loving your photos – that salmon looks delicious:)

    July 8, 2012
    • Thank you! The photos of the beach are Scott’s this time around.

      The salmon was bright and wild. It tasted really meaty. Mmmmm.

      July 11, 2012
  15. NUMMY. I think I feel a rumbly in my tumbly. 😉

    July 8, 2012
  16. Amy #

    If you can eat it, it’s a word…don’t you think? Your pics of the salmon are gorgeous, and the almond cake sounds SO good. I love, love, love almond paste. Like, I-could-eat-it-by-the-spoonful-Love.

    July 8, 2012
    • Amy, my friend, if you like almond paste, you are going to fall seriously in love with this cake.

      I made the vegetarian tamale pie AGAIN (for like the 4th time) recently. That recipe fills a hole in me I didn’t know I had.

      July 11, 2012
  17. Learner Londoner #

    I am in LOVE with your dog (and your food)!

    July 8, 2012
    • Aw, thanks! The dogs, in turn, are in love with the food, which makes cooking and photographing a little nuts from time to time. Thunder broke into the office and licked the peanut butter frosting off a piece of strawberry cake a week or two ago– thank goodness it wasn’t chocolate!

      July 11, 2012
  18. you are quoting my favorite e.e.cummings poem in the last word – made me smile >8)

    July 9, 2012
    • Shelley, what a lovely coincidence. Makes me smile, too.

      July 11, 2012
  19. Does “Scot” rhyme with “pluot,” and is there a satisfying poem to be made in case you do not again encounter the dude?

    July 9, 2012
    • Excellent idea. It’s at least a slant rhyme, and I’m on it.

      July 11, 2012
  20. Your poem reminds me of Annie Dillard.

    July 9, 2012
    • Have you read “Seeing,” by her?

      July 11, 2012
      • Yes. I had to look it up because I wasn’t sure, which led to me re-reading it. So thanks for that.

        July 13, 2012
  21. shannon #

    there is nothing i don’t love about this particular post. that’s what i was going to say before i remembered i’m an english major, and have special things stored in my brain; things like william carlos williams poetry, the word “pluot,” and the rule that says i am not allowed to double negatives. so.
    i love everything about this post. see? no negatives. all positives. i love the photos, i love the cake, i love that salmon, and i love those puppies.

    July 14, 2012
  22. I’d so back you up on pluots.
    We’ve been eating loads of fresh local sockeye salmon sold down the road- next the kings come in and they will look even more gorgeous with tangy basil cream. The neighbors are all pawning off their basil right now too.
    And the almond cake looks like a perfect light summer dessert.

    July 19, 2012

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